Writing on the Rocks

The last month, I’ve been alternating between polishing (and submitting) picture books, and writing poetry. I’m busily at work on my Antarctic historical verse novel – trying new poetic forms and realising all over again how beneficial poetry is for writing. Truly seriously, if you are a principal, literacy coach, or classroom teacher (if you value writing muscle and creativity), you NEED poetry in your classrooms. Regularly! I know I say it often – but after an extended period of time fashioning facts into strict poetic forms I’m going to say it again – nothing builds writing muscle better than poetry. Nothing sparks creativity, wordplay and experimentation with literary devices better than poetry. It’s a challenge. It’s invigorating and rewarding. It’s valuable. It’s FUN!

Why aren’t we encouraging and enabling more kids to write more poetry?

Why do we clutter their curriculum with so many persuasives that kids can’t even be persuaded to want to WRITE!?  Everything feels so prescribed. Actually, I had a little rant about something similar on Twitter last week. So maybe I should just combine the two, and do the job properly! In the hope that someone who writes curriculum might one day stumble on my blog, I’m just going to include a couple of the tweets here…

To illustrate my point, about the muscle, creativity and economy of poetry, I’ll include a little snippet from my Antarctic WIP. And a picture. From Antarctica… (Any excuse to revisit Antarctica!!)

The poem is a tetractys, (or in this case, a double tetractys) and follows a specific syllable count.

Line 1 – 1 syllable
Line 2 – 2 syllables
Line 3 – 3 syllables
Line 4 – 4 syllables
Line 5 – 10 syllables

The double tetractys reverses the syllable count in the second half. A tetractys  can rhyme. Often mine do – but in this one I was focused on the facts and wordplay. And so many details! (Read more about the tetractys.)

The process. Early versions of a tetractys draft – though I know there were many other combinations that don’t seem to be in my document. #Ooops  There are ERRORS in the above, btw. Can you spot them?

The portion of text that shaped the poem.

Current version (after three days of tweaks) – which I can’t guarantee won’t change… but I’m feeling pretty chuffed with!

Dark
hill slope,
blinding snow,
slick, too-smooth ice,
frozen obstacle course and push-pull squalls.
Do not snuff the lantern! Record results.
Face and fingers
frostbitten;
wind has
teeth.

Tetractys © Kathryn Apel 2017 – All rights reserved

Different bay, different season, different era, different character, but… Antarctica! (So that’s okay – right?) #breakingalltherules

There are so many different forms of poetry – something for every reader, writer and situation. Some forms have ‘rules’, like the tetractys, while others offer freedom. Poetry is a wealth of creativity just waiting to be unleashed!

Irene will help you Live Your Poem (Yay!) as she collects the links for the #PoetryFriday round-up today. Thanks, Irene. Whether you’re a reader, a writer, an educator or a student, (anyone, really) I’m sure you’ll find good stuff there!

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Text As Art Takes to the Streets

The big and exciting news is that Text as Art, produced by Creative Regions, went live last weekend (right before Bundaberg was inundated with over 300mm of rain in 24hrs for the wettest October on record – in just one day!) Fortunately, the artworks survived – and look fantabulous!! I took 120 photos in my wandering mid-week – but of course I can’t show them all, here. (Or anywhere, for that matter.) But I will share some. There is also the conundrum – how best to showcase the project – yet leave it so that there is more to uncover for those who can visit in person. ALSO (big part of it) there is the fact that, when I started to do a collage for each of the collaborations, it took forAGES! So – you just get this. And if you want to see more, (or bigger pics) check out #textasart on Instagram – or my kat.apel insta-page. Meanwhile, I give you … this little piggy!

And a little glimpse at the full collection… that does not do it justice. 😦 (You would need the words, for a start…)

The ephemeral artwork will be on display until 16th October. A huge congratulations to Trudie Leigo (project curator) and all the talented writers and artitsts (listed below – writer, then artist) involved in the project. I wish I could showcase every aspect of your wonderful word/ks – and the stories behind the inspirations. It has been such fun to be involved with this projects – which has certainly enhanced our city’s streets, and exceeded any expectations I had. Job very well done!

1. National Australia Bank – Kat Apel & Adrienne Williams
2. School of Arts – Lonnie Toy & Marlies Oakley
3. Brick wall adjacent to School of Arts/driveway – Sam Ephraims & Jay Feather
4. Bundaberg Regional Council – Jake Thompson & Taylor Klassen
5. Bundaberg Regional Council/Civic Centre fronting Buss Park – Jo Williams & Judith Bohm-Parr
6. Tree located in nature strip between Buss Park & Moncrieff – Jassy Watson & Lynda Vertigan
7. Burnett Mary Regional Group – Annette Tyson & Paul Perry
8. Moncrieff Entertainment Centre – Wendy Davis & Michelle Pacey
9. Civic Arcade floor (157 Bourbong St) – Cheryl Ratcliffe & Jeremy Kiraly
10. Telstra Exchange – Jenny Gilbertson & Julie Hylands

This weekend I’m attending a workshop on Transmedia Storytelling, at Bundaberg WriteFest (another Crush Festival event) and I’m a part of the Writing in the Regions panel. The Crush Festival activities continue next week, a highlight being the Great Gelato Groove, where there will be words… and gelato at Allowishus (So Delicious!) … which basically means that you’re all so jealous! Yes? 😉

Violet at Violet Nesdoly | Poems has our PoetryFriday round-up this week. My little corner of the world has been blessed by rain, words, art and joy, but it has been another horrific week in America, and that will surely shape a lot of blog posts this round. I know I am not alone in my incomprehension. Not just from the unspeakable act itself, but the very fact that after all these too-oft repeated events, the laws don’t change. I just can’t…

I would not buy
my boys
toy guns;
point
and shoot
is not a game;
life is not
to be toyed with.

© Kathryn Apel

 I cannot leave this post there, so I’ll share this old friend, with a new voice, that appeared in my tweet-stream yesterday, courtesy of Martha Mihalick.

Peace.

Calling Home – Calling Memories

Adrienne Williams is an artist in the Bundaberg-region who I met recently through my involvement in the Text as Art project –  a part of WriteFest and the 2017 Crush Festival. Adrienne is in fact going to be creating the art from a portion of the text I have written – but that’s another story! (Click on the links if you’re wanting to know more.)

The framed artwork above Adrienne is three-dimensional, with intricate paper cutouts. Exquisite!

Adrienne’s collection, ‘Calling Home‘ is currently on display at the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery (BRAG), accompanied by Andy Wilson’s soundscape. ‘The Vault’, is the perfect space for this immersive, surround-sound visual feast. Stunning!

Enter another world…

Enter ‘The Vault’ and you will experience a soundscape of the Subantarctic, including penguins (cue the memories!) skuas, seals and other native wildlife, and art of different sizes and dimensions, inspired by the penguins (individually and collectively) and the megaherbs of the Subantarctic region. There is so much to take in, and the grey-scale pallet is perfect – as are the select 3D pieces, with intricate cut-work.

Elephant seal greeting. You too can sit with the seals.

There are also seals! Yes – large as life real-deal elephant seal beanbags that you can nestle into, kick back and absorb the experience.

BRAG is running ‘Get Inked‘ – a kids’ holiday workshop with Adrienne, on 21st September. (Bookings are essential.)  But meantime, I thought a little bit of poetry might be nice… Adrienne’s penguins were just crying out for some shape poetry wordplay.

Calling home: no cable, data, or credit needed.

I had so much fun with these! They’re inspired by the image in the background of Adrienne’s photos, above. A modified version may even work its way into one of two projects I’m working on at the moment… which is a lovely little bonus! (They were just the impetus I needed to dive back into my Antarctic verse novel. Yay!)

I’m a little kicking-self here, because Michelle Barnes is hosting Poetry Friday this week, and I’d have loved to post my Abecedarian poem, since that’s the challenge she’s running on Today’s Little Ditty this month – but I really wanted to get Adrienne’s post in  today, before her workshop – so… no Abecedarian this week. I’ll have that here for you next week.

Meanwhile, Bundy peeps, you have until 22 October to get into the Art Gallery and be transported to the Subantarctic. Don’t miss this opportunity!

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Quoting the Kids

A little child shall lead them – up the garden path!

I toyed with posting these poems for last week’s play-based learning post… until I remembered my dress-ups poem and Soapy Sid. But these were too cute to keep – so why not share them this week, instead? Poems inspired by gorgeous things my boys have said.

 

Sowing Seeds to Bake Buns

A four year-old was castigating Mother on her waste,
when throwing out the sesame seeds, in her clean-up haste.
He grabbed the bread roll packet and retrieved it from the bin,
still scolding, as he hunted for a pot to put them in.

His mother patiently explained, “We cannot plant these seeds.”
But laddie was intent upon his propagation deeds.
“Well how will we get more buns then?” the boy wanted to know.
“We won’t have more fresh buns if we don’t plant the seeds to grow!”

 

Toadstool in a Tutu

The little girl up on the stage, all dressed in glossy white,
was twirling on her slippered toes and prancing with delight.
Her tutu wasn’t made of tulle, all ruched with gathering,
but satin, stretched across a hoop – a flat and skinny thing.

A young boy in the audience was clearly quite entranced,
but baffled by the rigid skirt that quivered as she danced.
This mystery he had to solve, before it drove him mad…
“Is she a mushroom, or a toadstool?” asked the puzzled lad.

 

Tuna Schooner

I like shopping trips with my son.
He turns mundane chores into fun!
When buying tinned tuna
that featured a schooner
he cried, “There’s a boat in this one!”

 

The Editor

my boy edits
paper planes
the cubby house
a construction project
and a poem

he edits everything
that needs fixing
because mum is
a writer

Poetry © Kathryn Apel
All rights reserved

Matt Forrest Esenwine will be shining a flashlight on Poetry Friday this week, so click across to https://mattforrest.wordpress.com to share your links and light up your night (and day) with poetry. 🙂

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Poetry Friday – Child’s Play

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Round-up. This is my first time hosting the Poetry Friday crew – and using a linky widget – so I sure am hoping it’s going to work first go!

Last week I posted some pics and collages from my experiences of Book Week in Australia. I mentioned that I was off to enjoy Boating Under the Bridge on the Saturday, so I’ll kickstart today’s blog with a collage from that day, because it was brilliant! So much free play stemming from a picture book that I’ve loved as both a mum and teacher, ‘Who Sank the Boat?’, by Pamela Allen.

A whole crowd of kids and carers spent a busy morning creating their own fun with simple and effective resources. It was just like #thegoodolddays #wheniwasakid and #kidswerekids. (Actually, it brought back more memories from when my boys were little, and building countless cubby houses, in trees, and from tin – and anything else they could find. And so much play!)

If you are a parent, carer or early-years educator in the Bundaberg region, get involved with the First Five Forever program, link in with Wide Bay Kids, and get yourself into your local library, because these three organisations, with the support of a whole lot of other community groups, are going to make a HUGE difference in the literacy and creativity of our up-and-coming generations! I was super impressed! Play matters – and these groups foster the fun of play-based learning, and recognise the crucial role of parents in that play. You can find more information on the Wide Bay Kids website – or ask at the Bundaberg Library. And get ready to have a whole lot of FUN with your kids!

I’d been planning to share a poem about my little nook of the world, but I’m realising it’s probably the perfect post to follow with a poem about creativity and play…

If I Dress-up.

Pirate02When I let my thoughts go crazy
then I can be anyone!
There’s no need to buy a costume,
just dress-up and have some fun.

With my stripy shirt in tatters
and my faded denim shorts,
I could wear a pirate’s eye patch
as I swish a sword of sorts.

IMG_5096

If I stuff Mum’s old brown stockings
and make goggle ping-pong eyes,
I could go and scare Miss Muffet
in my spidery disguise.

With my parka and Dad’s helmet,
winter gloves and sunnies too,
I would safely look quite speedy
just like racing drivers do.IMG_5171

If I use a bit of face paint,
make a wand and glitter wings,
I can flutter as a fairy
as I sprinkle joy on things.

If I grab my board, and swimmers,
and then smear my lips with zinc
I would only need a wave to
be a surfer, don’t you think?IMG_5155

When I let my thoughts go crazy
then I can be anyone!
There’s no need to buy a costume,
just dress-up and have some fun.

© Kathryn Apel
First published in Comet Magazine; Issue 4 2006
All rights reserved.

And I know I’ve shared Soapy Sid before on Poetry Friday, but… #play #creativity #imagination #hereheisagain And there were pirates Boating Under the Bridge.

© Kathryn Apel
First published in Comet Magazine; Issue 3 2006
All rights reserved.

Maybe you, too, have a poem to share about creative play? Or a particular play-based memory from your childhood – or special moments with your children? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Now, let’s see how I go with creating and inserting this widget (child’s play! 😉 ) so you can share the links to your inspiring poetry posts. Have a great weekend, and enjoy the wordplay!

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Going Places With Books

It’s Book Week in Australia. A celebration of children’s books and children INTO books, as we ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Here are some things that had me smiling this week.

Bundaberg Library kicked of Book Week with a hugely popular celebration of books. Wonderful to see parents engaging with their kids in the rich and creative activities. Kudos to Bundaberg Library staff and volunteers!

I was Quiz Master at the Inaugural Year 9/10 Readers Cup event, hosted by Gin Gin High School. Mrs Glenda George did a great job instigating and organising this. Congratulations to James Nash High School, Gympie, who took home the medallions. Winners were grinners – so that means all teams were winners! #smilesallround

The quickest of quick lunchtime poetry workshops (20mins) – was met with much enthusiasm – and wonderful results!

Enjoyed a morning of reading and book talk with kids at Coral Coast Christian School. Spot-on observations about bullying and friendships – and the importance of kind words. Lovely kids and staff.

Talked poetry with kids at Clermont State School via Blackboard online. Technology is a great thing – though truth be told, I much prefer engaging with kids face-to-face to gauge their reactions and understanding. But this was a wonderful way to make a poetry assessment task *real* for kids, as we analysed some of my poems, identifying purpose, audience and literary devices employed. Great bunch of kids – and teachers!

Received a letter from a book character – in REAL LIFE! I was delighted to hear from Tahnee-in-Year-Two (like Tahnee in Too Many Friends) from Western Australia – and her Mum and Dad! Thanks to a ‘darling’ teacher for connecting us.

So of course I had to send some friends to Tahnee-in-Year-Two; a friend charm, a shape poem, and a template to write her own – and one for a friend, of course!

Met with my Text as Art buddy, Adrienne Williams, to chat about possibilities for our collaborative art installation as part of Crush Festival/Write Fest 2017. (Loving the retro gallery walls in our pic.) The #TextAsArt project will be on display in the Bundaberg city precinct, Bourbong St, for the first two weeks in October. Yay!

I’m sure I’ve missed something – but I’ve probably consumed enough of your time (and megs!) already. Hoping that you’ve enjoyed a snippet of my week and my world – and even caught a glimpse or two of my words. The week of wonderful will close on Saturday, with Let’s Go ‘Boating’ Under the Bridge, a free community event which promises to be interactive, imaginative and a whole lot of fun, inspired by the book, ‘Who Sank the Boat’, by Pamela Allen. More information at widebaykids.com.au. If you live anywhere near Bundaberg, you should be there!

How wonderful to celebrate a love of books and story with others. And a love of poetry! It’s Poetry Friday worldwide, and Jone’s collecting links so Check It Out! (Thanks, Jone.) Next week it’s my turn to host the #PoetryFriday round-up. Eeeep! Guess I’d better make sure I get that linky thing working – and hope to see you here, then! 🙂

I knew I would forget something… and I did! How could I forget this exciting news?!

I’m thrilled to share that I’ve been awarded a May Gibbs Literature Trust Creative Time Fellowship in 2018 – to spend 1 month in Adelaide working on some poetry projects. Sooooo excited about this! I’ll be sneaking in just before the winter freeze. (I hope!!) Huge thank-you to the MGLT for their faith in my projects.

Book Week Costumes

Book Week is this week – and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably just starting to think about costumes. Don’t panic! I’ve got your covered, with quick and EASY ideas for each of my verse novels. That gives you more time to do what we all love best, right? READ!!

Enjoy! 😀

Running out of time and in a spin? Shaun and Toby can help you get On Track! Mohawk optional – or DIY with own hair.

Don’t have a discus? Don’t worry! Two plastic plates are perfect. Or a round lid. Or a foam/cardboard circle.

Is this cheating? For simple, easy Book Week costumes? Personally I’m loving the cardboard cutout friend silhouettes.

If Book Week has crept up like a sly wolf, mask your panic with a #DIY mask. Click the pink to go direct to the templates.

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Brisbane Booking

I will be in Brisbane during the first week of August for author visits – and I have one day still available! I offer author talks and poetry workshops, for primary and secondary students – and staff.

“If you are a Brisbane school, I can highly recommend Kat for an author visit.” (Kim Yeomans)

Read Kim Yeomans’ teacher-librarian blog about my May visit to St Martins, in Melbourne.

More information under my Author Talks tab. I’d love to talk creativity and kindness with your class.

Horsepower

Kicking off Text As Art

It’s Friday. Time for some poetry love – though I do hope you can love poetry every day of the week!

Today I’m sharing a solage – (and a rush of memories) and two snippets of news.

First the news… I was thrilled to hear that my poem ‘Big Blue Whale‘ is being used in a 7th Grade English second language text book, with Norwegian publisher Gyldendal Undervisning. Can’t wait to see it in its new print home! And exciting to have my first poem published in Norway. I’ll share pics when I see it! Until then, Yay! 

And… I’m also excited to be involved with Bundaberg Creative Regions’ Text As Art project, running throughout August (writing) and September (creating), for an October installation and 2-week display. Watch this space for more information, because I can all-but guarantee that I will be writing…. poetry! #anditwillbeFUN 🙂

Now, the poetry; a solage.

And doesn’t nostalgia bubble with that photo! So many beloved people – in a pic taken well before I knew them. And the house where I grew up in in the background (where my parents still live) and the tree that dripped sparkly green/silver/pink shimmer-berries with a distinctive aroma that I am smelling as I type this post. (Don’t ask me what it’s called because I couldn’t tell you – and the tree is long gone.)

The little ‘hut’ behind that tree was the cream room, where (full) cream cans were stored, stirred twice a day, and collected every 2 or 3 days for delivery to the butter factory. Not refrigerated, but cool (still is!) with strategic windows and thick, lined walls for insulation. (It has since been a chook pen and bird aviary – and now houses gardening tools, etc.)

The above photo features my dad, and aunt and uncles, and three of their Melbourne cousins. I love it! But an even older treasure is the photo below, which features my twinkle-eyed, larrikin Grandan and his siblings, minus his youngest brother. (I so wish he was in this pic, too!)

That sweet little girl in the middle, is the mother of the cousins of the first pic. She also was born in the same house, and bred on the same farm… and came back often to visit during my years growing up, always climbing ‘The Rocks’ on the hill behind our house, to look down on the vista of the farm and neighbourhood. You can spy her in the pic below, making the trek at the age of 95. This much-loved lady turned 100 earlier this month.

FYI: There are no photos of my siblings and I lined up like cylinders in a car engine, astride a horse. Fortunately, necessity didn’t involve ‘horse’power for our trip to school, because whilst I was (until the age of 18 ) frequently required to muster, or mind cattle on the road, this grazier’s wife who’s scared of cows is also scared of … horses! (Particularly when my brother was involved.)

Poetry Friday this week is hosted by Katie at The Logonauts. Thanks, Katie. Meanwhile, I’m still smiling at all the macaroni cheese poems that surfaced last week – annatto and all! Who knows what treasures you’ll discover on the Poetry Friday rounds this week.

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Cheesy Mac

I was all set to roll with a horsepower post today… but then my tweet stream started to fill with… (Oh no! I forgot!!) CheesyMac!

Here’s the quickest-ever batch of Mac&Cheese that I have every whipped up!

When you’re wanting a tasty, quick snack
that won’t line your washing up rack,
grab some pasta and cheese,
cause they’re sure to appease,
when hunger pangs plead cheesy mac!

© Kathryn Apel 2017  (All rights reserved)

Why are we all writing macaroni cheese poems, you ask? Good question! I do remember mention of it some weeks ago during Poetry Friday – something to do with National Macaroni & Cheese Day – which we likely aren’t celebrating in Australia… 🙂 BUT… I got a new poem… and my post for NEXT Friday is all-but finished. So I think that means I’m ahead.

Alas, I don’t have plans for Mac&Cheese for tea… though I’m tempted.

Go tempt your tastebuds with cheese treats and more at Tabatha’s blog, where I promise you won’t be indifferent.